The only grandson of Oscar Wilde has successfully applied for an Irish passport thanks to his famous ancestor.
The story came about because of a gesture of generosity from the Irish government.
Merlin Holland is a British citizen who has lived in Paris for the past 15 years. The 73-year-old qualifies for Irish citizenship thanks to his Dublin born grandfather – who he has written several books about.
He decided to apply after the Irish government helped to fund the restoration of Wilde’s tomb in Paris, which had fallen into disrepair.
Holland told the Daily Mail that the decision to secure his Irish citizenship was not only a fitting gesture of thanks to the Irish government – it will also help him to retain certain freedoms that he may have lost after Brexit.
Having spent so long living in France, he was worried that he might have to leave as UK citizens may not have the right to live in EU countries after Britain leaves the EU.
He told the Daily Mail: “I then realised that I could probably qualify for foreign birth registration as my grandfather was born in Ireland.
“I have now received my passport so the French can’t throw me out after Brexit and my wife will be able to travel to the UK, where she likes to have her hair cut.”
Holland also thanked the Irish government for helping to pay to treat Wilde’s grave.
“They had agreed to pay 50,000 euros to clean up Wilde’s tomb in the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris and encase it in expensive protective glass.
“So even though the passport will help me to remain in France and move freely to other countries, it is also a thank-you gesture to the Irish.
“Even though I have found grandfather exasperating at times, it is nice to discover he has been able to help me 119 years after his death.”
How to apply for Irish citizenship
Check out the links below to see whether you might qualify for Irish citizenship.
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling